Thursday, May 14, 2020

Reconciling Social Media: Guest Post By Novelist Claire Fullerton

In this day and age of social media at the center of an author’s career, there is much to reconcile, and I wrestle with keeping a proper perspective. 
On the one hand—and you’d think this to meet me in person—I  am ridiculously extroverted; I have what author, Pat Conroy, labeled the “Southern sickness” of assuming everyone I meet is my best friend, yet on the other, I am intensely private. I don’t like showcasing myself because it feels like grandstanding, and quite frankly I’m not impressed with myself to the point that I think I have anything lofty over any other writer. We are all of us playing a long game, making our way in our chosen field. But sometimes it seems that one has to have an elevated sense of oneself in order to promote one’s work as an author. There’s a fine line these days, and it’s the one thing I didn’t realize going into “being” a writer. I’m probably like many people in their 50’s. We were the generation who woke up one day to discover the entire world was online and all over social media. When that realization dawned on me, it was a major hustle to catch up.
Then there is the concern of reconciling novel-writing as art and publishing a novel as a business. Once upon a time–as little as ten years ago—authors wrote books and turned them over to their publishing house to promote. If they had an audience to justify a book tour, the publisher paid for the author to travel from bookstore to library to book club to meet readers in person. This is still done, but on a small, discerning scale primarily intended for authors who have wide name recognition. 
As for authors with a small or independent press, when it comes to a book tour, it’s all out of pocket and they’re essentially on their own.  Because book publishing options have opened up and there are now thousands upon thousands of authors in the waters, the effort is geared toward keeping abreast of the tide and waving one’s hand above the noise. What’s more, in this day and age, the lion’s share of promotion falls to the author and is not only about promoting a book; authors are expected to promote themselves.
I’ve been torn over this for a while, now. I’ve promoted my novels on social media but limited myself in self-promotion by only going so far. I’ll take the opportunity here to add to Conroy’s definition of Southern sickness: friendly as we are, Southerners are an unflashy lot given to personal discretion. Too much going on about oneself is succinctly considered bad form.
I see it all on social media. People post all kinds of personal information from their family to their lifestyle to their political views. I’m not passing judgment, just making an observation, but I do know that too much online, personal information can put one in a vulnerable position and lead to an unintended consequence. It’s the downside of social media and it’s a struggle to strike a manageable balance.
So, how does an author effectively promote their book on social media?  I think an author has to arrive at a healthy balance. Much comes down to author etiquette, and at the center of this is author engagement. Beyond an author’s personal profile on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, there are legions of book groups on each. Following, liking, and adding encouraging comments in key. Sharing content from fellow authors is wonderfully appreciated; reading and reviewing a book goes a step further.
And it’s worth mentioning, should an author have something worth crowing about, that how one shares news is also a consideration. Prefacing news of a book award with gratitude is gracious. Thanking readers for being a part of the book’s journey is inclusive.
Above all, consistency on social media translates to sincerity. Though some authors use social media while promoting their book then disappear once word gets around, it is helpful for an author to remember they are part of an author’s community. Between book releases, supporting fellow authors keeps one involved.
Love of the written word and the power of story is what drives a writer to write in the first place. In my mind, it’s a privilege to have a book published and lends a great amount of verification that one is on the right path and, therefore, it motivates one to continue. A published book is well worth sharing on social media, but for those of us wrestling with how to best do this, I think the answer is found in seeking a balance.    

Claire Fullerton hails from Memphis, TN. and now lives in Malibu, CA. with her husband and 3 German shepherds. She is the author of Mourning Dove, a five-time award winner, including the Literary Classics Words on Wings for Book of the Year, and the Ippy Award silver medal in regional fiction ( Southeast.) Claire is also the author of Dancing to an Irish Reel, a Kindle Book Review and Readers' Favorite award winner that is set on the west coast of Ireland, where she once lived. Claire's first novel is a paranormal mystery set in two time periods titled, A Portal in Time. She is a contributor to the book, A Southern Season with her novella, Through an Autumn Window
Little Tea is Claire's 4th novel, released in May 2020 by Firefly Southern Fiction. Little Tea is the August selection of The Pulpwood Queens Book Club ( 785 chapters) a Faulkner Society finalist in the William Wisdom international competition, and a finalist in the Chanticleer Review's Somerset award. She is represented by Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Literary Agency.


Marian Beaman said...

Claire, you have a lot to crow about, having published several award-winning novels. As a self-declared, proper Southern lady (ha!) there is not much danger of your going overboard.

Last year I self-published my first book, a memoir or my early Mennonite life, and let me tell you, if I didn't promote my book, it wouldn't get promoted at all. However, I do have a healthy social media platform and kind friends (be assured, proper Southern Ladies) who helped with a lively launch and subsequent promotions in Florida. Susan kindly hosted me at a Women's Writing Circle meeting, my first stop on a book tour in Pennsylvania.

All best to you, as you soldier on! You are right, we do it because we love the writing life and wouldn't have it any other way!
Thanks, Susan, for featuring Claire this week.

Susan G. Weidener said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on book promotion, Marian. I agree that Claire has much to crow about. So do you. Your social media platform attests to hard work and a healthy following. It was a joy to host you at Women's Writing Circle when 'Mennonite Daughter' first came out. I miss those days of in-person camaraderie and sharing, but, for now, we do what we can here on social media and stay in touch, which is wonderful for us, our books and our readers.

Claire Fullerton said...

Hi Marian:
I am so glad to meet you! Thank you for your sweet comment. And yes, whether one is self or traditionally published, it all comes down to the author! It's a long game. I remember the astute Jonathan Haupt of the Pat Conroy Literary Center ( worked with Pat Conroy on starting Story River Books) telling me, "We build our readership one reader at a time! " It's all fun to me, I will say that. I'm just grateful to be in the game!

Sherrey Meyer said...

Claire, I'm a little late to the party, but wanted to thank you for the good advice and insight into self-publishing and marketing. Hailing from Nashville, I understand Pat Conroy's definition of and as an introvert, marketing my own book and myself is the last thing I want to do. I've been dragging my feet on publishing my memoir, which is in rewriting stage right now. Perhaps reading this post a few times will give me the courage to give it a try.

Susan, thanks for bringing Claire to your site. She has encouraged and inspired me with her words and experiences as have you for many years.

Claire Fullerton said...

Sherry Meyer, I'm glad to be encouraging!~ And although I am not self-published ( my books are with two Independent presses) I think it's all the same strategy. Even with independent presses, it falls to the author to get in the game and stay there. I'm glad to hear you're in the re-writing phase of your memoir. Have you looked into the National Association of Memoir Writers? I met the two women who are behind this outfit at the San Francisco Writers Conference, and they're lovely! My understanding is they're the go-to organization for all things memoir!